Your brain can do amazing things, including reading, writing, and even (for some people) complicated calculations. What it can’t do is focus completely on more than one thing at a time.
This makes it extremely dangerous for you to be driving while you’re in an argument, too.
When you’re concentrating on the conversation, making your point, and “winning,” your body is undergoing multiple physiological responses. Your adrenaline kicks in. Your heart is beating faster than it should. Your blood pressure rises, and you may even “see red.”
How can all of this affect your driving? Here are three reasons why you must remain calm, no matter how badly you want to respond.
1. You Aren’t Watching the Road
Keeping your eyes on the road is a core rule for every driver. Hazards can crop up instantly at any time. An animal may run out in front of you, a bicyclist or walker could be on the side of the road, or another car could swerve into your lane.
One of millions of hazards can happen, and if you are focused, you might be able to stop in time to avoid a deadly collision. But if you’re looking at the person you’re arguing with, or emotionally distracted, you’re not nearly as observant as you should be. The odds of an accident skyrocket.
The statistics on crashes are already high due to factors like drug and alcohol use and distracted driving, as discussed in this JT Legal Group article. Don’t become a statistic because of an argument.
2. You Can Lose Control of the Vehicle
The old rule said to hold your hands at the “ten and two” positions. Today, the recommended switch is to “nine and three.” Either way, most of us don’t use two hands to hold the steering wheel, and we still keep control of our cars.
That changes when you’re in an argument. In fact, arguing while driving falls under the category of “distracted driving” because you can easily lose control of your vehicle.
All it takes is one missed curve or puddle, and that lack of attention and both hands on the wheel can be deadly. Drivers that cause accidents because of an argument can be charged with anything from dangerous and careless driving to failure to be in proper control of their vehicle.
Depending on the damage, you might get away with a citation and fine. If anyone was injured, you have an almost guaranteed lawsuit on your hands. You’ll also have an insurance company that will want to drop you as a policyholder or raise your premiums as soon as possible.
3. You Could Have a Serious Physical Reaction
We’ve discussed the ways your body physically responds to stress during an argument. Those reactions are what happens to a healthy person undergoing an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
What about people who aren’t as healthy?
If an argument is serious enough to raise your blood pressure too much, you could end up with a stroke or a heart attack. Since you’re behind the wheel, those precious seconds turn potentially fatal.
If you realize what’s going on, you could have enough time to pull over or slow down. But most people who have a stress-induced stroke or heart attack have little to no warning.
The warning signs that are there, such as dizziness and blurred vision, may be overlooked because you’re so angry or emotional.
People who are prone to seizures or who have heart conditions should be extra careful to avoid arguments when driving. The stress can induce a seizure or exacerbate any heart complications.
If there’s an accident, it will likely take the paramedics precious extra time before they realize there’s an underlying problem. They’ll be looking for external signs of injury first.
Arguing is never a fun thing to do unless you’re on a debate team. When you’re behind the wheel of a car, a heated distraction is the last thing you need. Stay focused, remain calm, and avoid responding to the other person. You can always continue the conversation after you park and both of you have had a chance to calm down. It’s a much better way to resolve a problem.
Read more: How do you clean your car at home?